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Survey of Forensic Reference Materials, 1999

NCJ Number
Date Published
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
This report presents the results of a survey assessing reference materials and collections available in forensic laboratories across the United States.
In response to the identified need to determine the current status of and need for reference materials and standard reference collections in United States crime laboratories, the Office of Law Enforcement Standards (OLES) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a survey of the Nation’s public crime laboratories. The survey attempts to enhance cooperation and communication among State, county, Federal, municipal, and regional crime laboratories by giving every public crime laboratory in the United States an opportunity to express its need for reference materials and standard reference collections. More than 550 survey responses were processed. Laboratory directors indicated that the most common uses of reference materials in their laboratories were for the interpretation of test results, as training or instructional aids, and for classification of evidence. Section supervisors expressed the need for basic information resources, such as books, journals, printed and computer databases, reference materials which are lacking in laboratories and are not considered essential items. Discrete physical reference materials needed by supervisors most were fiber, biological specimens, and DNA. In reference collections, two of the top three reference materials cited as necessary were fiber and biological specimens. Future collections that were indicated as needed consisted of fiber and paint groups, which topped the list. The survey identified the specific reference materials and collections that crime laboratories require today, as well as for the future. Survey results indicate that the Federal and State governments can target initiatives for developing reference materials and collections. Appendixes A-G and exhibits
Date Created: March 12, 2001